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UK says its crackdown on unexplained Russian money is working

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By Reuters

NEWYORK (Reuters) – Britain said on Tuesday that wealthy Russians were already beginning to make sure their financial affairs were in line with British rules following a crackdown on unexplained wealth.

After the poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England earlier this year, Britain’s National Crime Agency has stepped up efforts to tackle dirty money funnelled by Russians and others into, or through, the United Kingdom. Britain blamed the poisoning on Russia. Russia has denied involvement.

May said that Unexplained Wealth Orders (UWOs), a means by which the assets of corrupt “politically exposed persons” or those with links to serious crime can be seized, were already starting to take effect.

“Just having those has meant that some people have changed their behaviour and are now playing by the rules,” May told reporters on her way to New York to attend the United Nations General Assembly.

A senior British official said that since the poisoning in Salisbury in March, some Russians living in Britain had begun to engage with the authorities to get their affairs in order.

The official said that while it would take time to see data on the actual use of UWOs, the National Crime Agency had already noted that their deterrent effect was kicking in.

(Reporting by William James; editing by Stephen Addison)